Catholic students create sleeping mats for homeless

Mia, Annabelle and Lincy show the mats they created for the homeless using recycled plastic bags. (COURTESY)

A trio of seventh-grade girls at Good Shepherd Catholic School in Orlando is demonstrating mercy and helping to save the earth at the same time. They are weaving recycled plastic bags from local grocery stores into sleeping mats for the homeless.

The mats are waterproof, bug proof and can be used to keep out the cold. They’re 3 feet by 6 feet, made of up to 700 bags, and take at least 15 hours to make. “When I heard about this kind of project, I thought that it was something I really wanted to do,” said Annabelle. “I feel like I have a lot of free time, so why not use it to do something for other people.”

Annabelle quickly enlisted the help of two classmates, Mia and Lincy. “I feel so accomplished making these mats,” said Mia. “It takes hundreds of years to break down a plastic bag in a landfill. This is such a good use of bags.”

The girls spent much of their spring break learning how to crochet the mats. Annabelle’s garage is currently filled with plastic bags, so they have a busy summer ahead. “I used to waste time,” said Lincy. “Now I use my extra time and feel productive, knowing it will lead to something bigger.”

“This is the best kind of project, a grassroots project,” said Principal Jaime Hartmann. “I received an email from Annabelle asking if they could collect plastic bags. Reuse, reduce, and recycle, taking care of the environment and providing something useful for someone in need, is right up my alley. The whole community got to be a part of it.”

The girls plan to start a school club so other interested students and teachers can help in the future. “The Beatitudes teach us to be meek and humble, not just look for worldly things,” explained Lincy. “It’s cool how each person is unique, just as each one of these mats.”

By Jennifer Powers, Florida Catholic Correspondent – May 1, 2018